The old saying is that “the customer is always right.” That has never been true, but the phrase is a caution against challenging customers about their demands. The theory is, as long as a print/mail service provider delivers what the customer ordered, they are not at fault if the outcome fails to meet expectations.

When service providers aren’t on the same page about the purpose of a mailing though, that attitude could cause trouble. Customers don’t always know what they want. More often, they do not ask for what they want, which might be more leads, sales, votes, or donations. Instead, they go shopping with a list of requirements focused on the mechanics of producing the communications – mailing list attributes, volumes, paper stock, colors, finishes, etc. Those are standard components, making it easy to compare one service provider with another, but they say nothing about the results customers hope a campaign will produce.

Service Providers Are the Experts

Customers are not necessarily on top of recent developments in postal promotional programs, technological improvements, personalization, channel integration, postage rates, and tracking. They may unwittingly limit the effectiveness of their campaigns by not taking advantage of their service provider’s industry knowledge and access to current technology.

Running jobs without suggesting performance-improvement ideas or alternative methods is easy, and it generates short-term revenue, but it turns the service provider into an order-taker. Without probing for more information, projects that the customers re-order because they have been using them the last 15 years are a commodity easily produced by competitors. Lackluster results from an outdated approach will eventually diminish customer enthusiasm for further investments in mail -- a losing proposition for both parties.

To promote customer loyalty, print and mail service providers should become familiar with customer objectives and past campaign performance. They should acquaint themselves with customer activities related to lead qualification, follow-up, conversion, and fulfillment. A service provider that can integrate, automate, or streamline these components of a mailing campaign can create new revenue streams and forge deeper customer relationships.

An inquiry about why a customer wants to do a mailing isn’t as risky as it sounds. Most customers will welcome the interest and aid in helping them achieve their objectives. If the new approaches generate improved results, they will be heroes at their companies and sources for expanded business relationships, testimonials, and referrals.

The customer is not always right, but they are always the customer. Giving them what they want instead of blindly supplying what they ask is a smart strategy.

Mike Porter helps print/mail organizations improve operations and develop strategies for growth. Contact Mike at or follow him on LinkedIn and Twitter @PMCmike to learn more.